ICC Prosecutor Seeks Full Investigation Into Boko Haram Extremists, Nigerian Forces

Bensouda says there is 'reasonable basis to believe' Boko Haram and splinter groups linked to it committed intentionally targeted schools and places of worship and used child soldiers

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A woman walks past Nigerian soldiers at a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, a town liberated from Boko Haram, April 8, 2015.
A woman walks past Nigerian soldiers at a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, a town liberated from Boko Haram, April 8, 2015.Credit: Lekan Oyekanmi/AP

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says a decade-long probe has found enough evidence to merit opening a full-scale investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Boko Haram extremists — as well as by Nigerian government forces battling them in a deadly insurgency.

Winding up the preliminary probe into northeastern Nigeria’s Islamic uprising, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Friday there is a “reasonable basis to believe” Boko Haram and splinter groups linked to it committed crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery and torture, as well as intentionally targeting schools and places of worship and using child soldiers.

She added that while the “vast majority of criminality” in the conflict was by Boko Haram, prosecutors also found grounds to believe that members of the Nigerian Security Forces committed crimes including murder, rape, torture and using child soldiers.

Bensouda said the next step will be to request authorization from judges to open a formal investigation.

Boko Haram and the breakaway faction, the Islamic State West Africa Province, are fighting to impose strict Islamic Shariah rule in Nigeria. Thousands have been killed in the more than 10-year-old insurgency and more than a million people have been displaced.

Bensouda said the preliminary probe took a decade in part because her office was monitoring investigations in Nigeria linked to the conflict.

Ultimately, she said that, “our assessment is that none of these proceedings relate, even indirectly, to the forms of conduct or categories of persons that would likely form the focus of my investigations.”

Amnesty International welcomed the announcement and urged the court to swiftly begin an "effective and well-resourced investigation.”

Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Director of Research and Advocacy, called it "the first meaningful step towards justice that we have seen for victims of atrocious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict in Northeast Nigeria.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott